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Loving Kindness - Conference


Loving Kindness: A Mini-Conference on the Benefits and Cautions of Using Mindfulness in Education

March 13, 2022

Free and Open to the Public
Registration is Required

This mini conference is held in support of Loving Kindness: A Children’s and Teens’ Art Exhibition About Mindfulness in Payne Art Gallery.

Mindfulness programs have grown rapidly in PreK-12 public and private schools, museums, and community programs throughout the US. For instance, locally, in the Bethlehem Area School District, schools have dedicated meditation spaces for students and staff, such as Liberty High School and at Donegan Elementary School. Marvine Elementary School was also recently the site of research on the impact of mindfulness programs for young children. Moreover, just recently, there has been an effort to hire more social-emotional learning coaches and school counsellors across the Lehigh Valley. A growing number of educators regularly guide children and teens in mindfulness practices, which are often followed by art lessons where students create works of art with mindfulness as the inspiration.

What is often overlooked is that mindfulness practices have their roots in sacred Buddhist religious traditions and there are many misrepresentations of mindfulness and yoga in mainstream, American culture. For example, the literal faces that represent mindfulness meditation are most often young photogenic, able-bodied, white women. Mindfulness is touted as a panacea, and more importantly, presented as a secular activity separate from Asian Buddhist creators/teachers and Asian communities. This is not isolated to mindfulness, as the May 2021 ruling in Alabama shows: yoga can be offered in public schools there as long as Asian words are not being used or taught! 

To address these issues, during this one-day conference, educators can learn more about the spiritual and religious origins of mindfulness, and ways to mitigate negative consequences of cultural appropriation as we use mindfulness principles in our classrooms and other secular settings. The panel discussion addresses the erasure of Asian history, roots, and words. We advocate for religious literacy: for instance, turning to Indian notions of dharma (truth/teachings/law) and Chinese understanding of 教 jiao (n. teachings/religion, v. to cause/tell/make) to question Anglophone distinctions between secular and religious.

Both the children's/teens' art exhibition and mini-conference aim to respond to this question: What role can art and mindfulness play in helping an individual and society build equitable, diverse, inclusive, flourishing and healthy communities?

Plan For the Day

Sunday, March 13, 2022

9:00-9:30am Check in and view the children’s art show in Payne Gallery
Tea & Coffee 
9:30-9:45am Gather in Foy Concert Hall; optional mindfulness practice
9:45-10:00am Welcome and overview of the day

Panel discussion 

11:30-12:00pm Lunch
12:15-1:30pm Choose 1 of 2 breakout sessions (described below)
1:45-3:00pm Choose 1 of 2 breakout sessions (described below)
3:00-4:30pm Tea, coffee reception in Payne

Participants can choose 2 of these breakout sessions in the afternoon:

12:15-1:30pm Choose 1:

  • Q & A and informal discussion with panel members on addressing cultural appropriation and other challenges of mindfulness in school; Two or more of the panelists would stay for this part of the day to have a more in-depth conversation with participants. 
  • Yoga for All in the Gallery (designed for all bodies, including those in larger bodies, those who cannot sit on the floor; those with physical disabilities) (Led by a Shanthi Project Teacher)

1:45-3:00pm Choose 1:

  • Art Education & Mindfulness: A Hands-On Art-Making Workshop (led by art educator)
  • Q & A and informal discussion with a panel member, art teacher, and children and teens who have participated in mindfulness practices in their schools or other settings. 


For more information about this show, contact co-curator, Kristin Baxter,